Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas, Unplugged

One of the noticeable things about moving from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere is that all of the days you celebrate and hold dear are in the "opposite" season.  My birthday, which used to be in autumn, is now in spring.  All of the things I associated with my birthday - crisp mornings and evenings, beautiful autumn foliage and pumpkin pie - have been removed.  Or replaced, to put it in a positive light.

It's the same with Christmas.  My Christmases over the years have been a bit schizophrenic. I have:
  • Gone innertubing in the snow
  • Gone swimming
  • Hiked through pine forests
  • Hiked through the bushveld
  • Drunk hot cocoa and gone Christmas caroling
  • Had a lekker braai and cooldrink
  • Bundled up in my warm woolen mittens
  • Harvested summer vegetables
All of the things I used to identify with Christmas disappeared when we moved to South Africa.  I spent the first two years pining for what I lost.  I spent the last two years enjoying what I gained.  In the process I learned that most of the traditions I associate with Christmas are just cultural trappings, if you will.  They have nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Christ and everything to do with the season and country in which the holiday occurs.

When you strip all of that away, you have nothing left but the holiday - holy day - and yourself.  When you remove the distractions from a celebration you find out what you really believe. Take away the birthday cake, presents and party and you find out how you really feel about the fact of your birth.  Take away the Christmas tree, gingerbread latté and Western consumerism and you find out what you really think about the birth of Jesus.


Chessalee said...

I've been thinking about the same - again - in the 'cold'. Christmas is just not the same. Very cold days, dark evenings, - I do feel depressed! Gone the warm sunny days, gone the outdoors - during Christmas - gone the warm evenings when singing carols by candles..I guess it's like you say...all just tradition. :)

Annie said...

It's funny how much tradition forms us, affects us. I can sympathise...